The High Calling
The high calling of God is our destiny and our purpose; it is the reason we exist. It was God's original intent for Adam and Eve, and we have an opportunity to make it our reality.
The Lord's desire is for all believers to attain to the high calling of God. His heart longs for a people made ready, a bride that loves Him more than herself. A bride that is extremely intimate with Him; who has lost her own life and become one with Him. The Bridegroom's heart beats for a bride that is completely His; a bride that He can manifest Himself through. One who can rule along of side Him on the earth for a thousand years. Our high calling is to know Him and be transformed into His image; to be His best friend and His son. This is the Lord's chief desire, and it must become ours.
Much of the current church is not pursuing The Lord’s high calling. Part of the church is trapped in a system that communicates the calling of a believer is simply to attend the church every Sunday and be a “good Christian.” Some of the church is prevented from the true high calling by a charismatic leader who is only seeking to build his own ministry and establish a name for himself among the current American church leaders. The leader will use believers to build his ministry as cogs in a wheel; always preaching to the people about serving the church with their gifts and talents (thus fulfilling their calling). Another section of the church believes their high calling is ministry. Believers have been taught by current leadership that doing the works of Christ (preaching the gospel, healing, deliverance, miracles, and revival) are the primary calling. If believers are not taught this, it is implied by the focus that leadership places on it.
Much of the current church has left her first love (Christ) for the love of a religious system, a leader, or the calling of ministry. Our primary calling is to know Him, and be transformed into His image. We have left our high Heavenly calling for a secondary earthly calling at best, or a deceptive illusion at worst. Believers will always feel empty unless they are in pursuit of their primary purpose, Christ. An idolized leader or ministry works can never fill the void in the heart of a believer. We were created for something more. We were created to walk with the King.
The Deception of Destiny
Many leaders in the Charismatic Church have preached personal destiny and calling for decades. The core message taught centers around believers having a calling from God to full time ministry, as a missionary overseas, to minister in miracles and power, or to a specific area in the culture that the Lord wants impacted dramatically. Because of the overemphasizes on the subjects of destiny and calling, the Charismatic Church (generally speaking) has fallen into a ditch. Destiny and calling has become the focus, and the Lord has fallen to second place. Many believers in the Charismatic church yearn for ministry above all else. They desire revival and to be used in signs, wonders, and miracles. Many want to preach or go to the nations to minister. When we focus more on our destiny than on Jesus Christ, destiny becomes our god. Destiny and calling have many in the Charismatic church trapped in bondage. They seek the next impartation that will transfer miracle working power to them. Believers travel to the next conference to get a big prophetic word about their calling and ministry. They stay updated on the latest words from the many prophetic websites. Their souls feed off of every word these prophetic sites have to offer. It's the fuel that keeps them encouraged; that drives them further chasing after their destiny. Their calling is the highest priority (what the Lord will use them for on the earth). They stop at nothing to bring their calling and destiny to pass by prayer and confession. It consumes them. They burn for their personal destiny above all else. Now their idolatry has become full-blown, and they are in deception. The Lord has become second place in their pursuit, because they turned their focus from Him.
The Lord's definition of destiny and the Charismatic church's definition are two different things. Here is how the Holy Spirit defines destiny (through Paul): “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” (Romans 8:29 NKJV).
The Lord foreknew every person who would ever choose Him by an act of free will. Those whom He foreknew, He predestined to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. The destiny of every believer is to be conformed to the nature of Christ. This is the highest calling we could ever have: to known Him and become like Him. To be close to Him for eternity because we made the decision to allow Him to conform us to His own image.
Satan has brought delusion into the church by replacing the high calling of being conformed to the image of Christ, with a personal calling and destiny. He has appealed to our souls. The natural life of Adam living in us has a craving for excitement, acknowledgement by others, power, and position. We like to be used in God's power and for others to see us used. We are ambitious and want to succeed according to earthly standards. Our souls long to be used in revival and have a position among believers in the church. We want others to see us as knowledgeable, prophetic, and used of God. Our souls have an issue with the pride of life, and the Devil has introduced doctrines to take advantage of our fallen souls. He has replaced the high calling of God with another "high calling" on the earth. And much of the church has bought into this bait-and-switch.
The Lord does give us earthly assignments. He commissions believers into ministry and sends them to the nations. The issue occurs when we put our earthly callings before our eternal calling. Also, we can never be trusted with our earthly calling until we have be crucified with Christ. We must no longer be living (our self-life), and Christ must be living through us (Galatians 2:20). When Christ is living through us, He will fulfill the earthly calling through us. We do not have the capacity of fulfilling our assignment anyway. Only Christ can do it through us. It is His calling that must be fulfilled through us, not our own.
“that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints,” (Ephesians 1:17-18 NKJV).
Many believers have sought after their own calling, when the Lord is desiring for our eyes to be enlightened that we may see it is all about His calling and His inheritance. However we have been so blinded by self-will and the self-life, that we have missed it. It's not about us getting what we want, it's about Jesus Christ being honored and receiving the reward of His suffering. Oftentimes we act as if the Lord is here just to serve us and give us what we want. If we could only see Him as the great King that He is, we would not think or act in selfishness. We would do whatever we could to yield ourselves to Him, that He might bring glory to Himself through us.
The State of the Church
Immature believers are led by the self-life instead of Christ’s life. The self-life enjoys being seen and exalted in the church. It desires to receive prophetic words about its own calling and ministry. It feeds off of meetings and revivals which give it an emotional high. These things have become a substitute for Christ. Being still before the Lord in His presence has become secondary to ministry and revival. The inward journey with Christ has become lost and forgotten. Outward things in the church have come to preeminence.
Much of the church is still camped out in the Charismatic Movement, when the Lord has been seeking to bring forth His apostolic church. The Charismatic church has been focused on what its name implies, the charisma of God (or the gifts). The Lord uses gifts, power, healings, deliverances, and miracles to get the attention of people and to demonstrate His love. But His intention is for people to go onward into a deep relationship with Him. A relationship where self-centeredness is destroyed, and the life of Christ is being manifested through the person.
Focusing on revival, gifts, and miracles will never bring us into fullness. The true power of the Holy Spirit that the Father desires us to choose, is His power to transform us into the image of His Son. The greatest thing that we can ever overcome is ourselves (through the power of the Holy Spirit).
Most of the revivals that the Lord has started in recent history, began with works of power and manifestations of the Holy Spirit. The problem is that the church built a camp around those things, and never progressed into the eternal will of the Lord (the cross life working in a believer unto the image of Christ). Because of our failure to progress in the eternal will of the Father, these revivals faded away instead of continued to increase. Whenever we focus more on what the Lord is doing than the Lord Himself, He is forced to end the revival before it becomes a golden calf that will ensnare us.
Prophetic ministry in the church has become focused on the self-life instead of centered around the eternal will of the Lord. Most people who are considered prophets by the Charismatic church are actually just operating in the gift of prophecy. There are currently very few real prophets in the church, and the church is in such an immature state that it has failed to discern the difference between the gift of prophecy and the function of a prophet. Most of the prophetic words that are going around in the church are focused on the self-life of a believer. For example, the words center around the believers’ ministry, calling, destiny, purpose, and their personal life. We must note that Jesus walked as a prophet perfectly and he never gave personal prophetic words of destiny to the individual. He carried and released the word of the Father. His prophetic words were not always “positive” but they were the truth from His Father.
We must recover the Father’s voice again in the church. His voice builds the nature of His Son in a person. The gift of prophecy is a blessing gift, while the true prophetic ministry is a building ministry. Its purpose is to see the Lamb come to fullness in a people. It's a voice that focuses on the Lamb and the will of the Lamb, not our self-life and desires.
The self-life has become so strong in the church that we crave prophecies for ourselves. The current prophetic operating in the church has been catering to the self centeredness of believers. Instead of giving mature words from the Father which builds living stones into the temple of God, the current prophetic gives words of blessing that feed the soul-life of a believer. These words of blessing mainly center around gifts, power, miracles, revival, ministry, and open doors for that believers calling. Believers desire these words and pull on the prophetic gift of a minister to get them. Many of the prophetic ministers are actually reading off of the soul of the believer or prophesying to them what they feel coming from the person. They are simply prophesying to them the desire of their hearts or telling them what they want to hear. Instead of building Christ’s church, it is keeping His church in a place of immaturity and deception. Again, Jesus is our example as a prophet and He never gave the type of personal prophecy that is the current foundation of the Charismatic church.
Personal prophecy and the operating of the gift of prophecy obviously is not wrong. The Father does bless His children. It is wrong when all we can hear is blessing, and all we crave is to be told something about our destiny. It is wrong when we have laid aside the voice from the throne that brings transformation, and only allowed the gift that blesses and makes us feel good. If we are going to become mature sons, we must be able to hear and receive correction.
We must get back to the pursuit of Jesus Christ above all else. We must pick up our crosses and follow Him if we are to truly be His disciples. The cross of Christ will deal with our self-life to where we are no longer living. Once Christ is living through us, He will have us positioned to receive the apostolic church that He desires to bring forth.
The Truth of Ephesians 4
“Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:8, 11-13 KJV)
The Lord’s eternal will for us is laid out clearly in the book of Ephesians. His will is the transformation into the image of His Son. The Lord gave five leadership ministry gifts or functions to the body of Christ to fulfill a specific purpose or job. The King James Version lists the purposes of leadership appropriately. Some versions do not translate certain words correctly, or they are not punctuated properly to go along with the context of what the Holy Spirit is saying.
The five leadership gifts are for the perfecting of the saints, not necessarily equipping as other versions state. The Greek word for perfecting also means “complete furnishing.” Equipping may and should be involved in the process, but it is not the focus; perfecting is. Perfecting is simply allowing Christ to increase in us to a certain measure, in which His life is manifesting through us.
The five ministry functions are also given for the work of ministry. This scripture is not speaking about believers, but the leaders. The punctuation in the KVJ is correct. It is a list of the purpose or job descriptions of the five leadership functions. Some Bible translations state that the five ministry gifts are given to “equip the saints for the work of ministry.” Again, this is because the church has become overly focused on ministry, and chooses to interrupt the scripture according to the desire of its own heart. Remember the context is referring to the gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor, and teacher; and the reasons that God has given them. Also, the context is speaking of perfecting, not equipping.
Elsewhere, the scripture clearly indicates that believers should be ministering to unbelievers and other believers in the church. However, the Lord’s focus is not that believers be equipped for ministry, but that His Son would come to fullness in the believer. When Jesus has been allowed to come to fullness in a person, then Jesus will minister through that person to the world and church. The church has traded Christ ministering through a person for the equipping knowledge of ministry schools. Once a believer reaches a place of maturity or perfection, Christ will be ministering. The church has gotten the cart before the horse, so to speak.
The five leadership functions are also given for the “building” of the body of Christ. Some translations say “edifying” which is true, but the Greek word used denotes architecture, so “building” may be a slightly better word to use. It should be noted that the leadership gifts are in place for the building of the body of Christ, not their own individual ministers. Many of the leaders in the current church have veered from their God-given job description, to fulfill the ambition of their own hearts. This is very sad, and grieves the Lord tremendously. Instead of preparing His bride for Him, leaders have been using the bride for their own selfish gain. Ambition for achievement has filled their hearts, and kept them from fulfilling their earthly calling as per Ephesians 4.
We know from Ephesians 2:20-22 and 1 Corinthians 3:10, that apostles and prophets have a building ministry, not a blessing ministry like the model in the current church. The function of true ministry is to see Christ formed in people. Real apostles and prophets live to please their master by seeing believers come to “the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ”. Many of whom the current church would refer to as apostles and prophets, are focused on equipping and blessing saints. While the Lord makes it clear that He desires His apostles and prophets to be engaged in building and perfecting saints unto the image of Christ. True apostles and prophets are focused on the Lord and His high calling, not the idol of ministry. Because many of those who are currently referred to as apostles and prophets, cater to the will of the church; they are well received and have attained to a celebrity/superstar status within the church. Believers follow their ministers, conferences, and teachings more than they follow Jesus. The true apostles of the Lamb in the first century were viewed as the filth of the earth, were appointed to death, and set forth as last (1 Corinthians 4:9-13). The so called apostles of today are exalted and hailed as first in the church. Either what we consider apostles today really aren't apostles at all, or they are immature apostles who were called, but never commissioned by the Lord. The Lord’s true apostles will come forth in the coming days. These are ones who have been broken in the wilderness under the hand of God. They will carry out the will of the Master at all costs.
Functioning in Ministry without Commissioning
For sometime now the church has believed the lie that leaders with powerful gifts from the Lord are somehow special, more favored, or closer to God. The Lord does not play favorites as He is not a respecter of persons. There are those who find favor with Him, and increase in His love because of their heart toward Him. Peter, James, and John got closer to Jesus than the rest of the disciples because their hearts wanted Him more than the rest of the disciples. We can be as close to the Lord as we want to be. The portion of the church who chooses to go all the way with Him and become His bride, will find themselves in a deeper level of the Lord’s love than the rest of the church who is satisfied with simply being saved or being a servant. The same is true in the natural, the love for your spouse is greater and more intimate then your love for a friend. The Lord does not favor people unfairly but rather He does so fairly. We all have an equal opportunity to be close to Him and to know Him.
Just because a minister carries a powerful anointing and gifting, does not mean that they are approved by God. Samson moved in a strong anointing, yet lived a life of sin and disrespect towards the Lord. He never really knew God. Judas moved in great signs, wonders, and miracles alongside the rest of the apostles; but His heart was so filled with the self-life that it drove him away from the Lord. Outwardly it may have appeared that Jesus favored Judas above many others because of the powerful anointing that flowed through him. However this is not the case. Judas had a specific calling and with that calling came great anointing from the Lord. The anointing that Judas ministered in was not the Lord’s approval of Judas’ life, rather it was simply given with the function that Judas was called to.
We have exalted leaders who moved and do move in powerful giftings and anointing. We have valued power over character and intimacy with the Lord. The Lord sees things very differently than we do. We view those who move in the strongest anointing as the chosen of God, and the greatest in the church (God’s Generals). The Lord views those who are intimate with Him in the secret place, and are transfigured into His image; as the greatest in the Kingdom. The Lord’s goal for us, is being conformed to the image of His Son, not for us to minister in the most anointing. Minister’s that move in powerful anointing can be very close to God just as Moses, Elijah, and Paul were. The point being made is that just because a leader moves in a powerful gifting, does not mean they are close to the Lord. In fact, many gifted leaders may find themselves least in the Kingdom of Heaven when they enter into it. Many who are first (well known) in this life will be last in the Kingdom, and many who are last (unknown) in this life will be first in the Kingdom.
Just because a gifted leader is successful in ministry, and has a growing church or ministry; does not mean that it is the Lord’s will. Leaders are given powerful preaching and teaching anotinings. They are gifted with the ability to build, and minister in healings and miracles. This however, does not mean they have been approved and commissioned by the Lord. Since the gifts and callings of God are irrevocable, a leader can choose to go into ministry without the commissioning of the Lord and still be successful (according to earthly standards of success).
True success according to the Lord, is the leader fully submitted to the will and timing of the Lord. Success is allowing the Lord to strip the leader of his agenda, his will, his pride, his way, his ministry, his ambition, his desires, and the success of his own name. When the leader is no longer living, then Christ can minister through the leader in order to have His will and His way with His church. When a leader has been broken by the cross of Christ, then the Lord can trust the leader with functioning in their leadership gift within the church. The leader must first be transformed into the image of Christ (at least to the degree that Christ deems sufficient), before he can minister to others. Leaders can’t help people be transformed into Christ’s image if they haven't been transformed themselves.
Some leaders know they are called and choose to step into ministry without the approval and commissioning of the Lord. To be out of timing with the Lord is to be out of His will. Christ in them has not come to full measure, so the maturity of God is not operating through them. They may be a gifted preacher but they will be incapable of fulfilling their Ephesians 4 mandate. They may look successful and grow their ministry, but they will not be able to fulfill the will of God by bringing believers to the mature man, the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. Therefore they will in fact be disobedient to the call of God on their life. Remember, the job description for a pastor or evangelist in Ephesians 4 is not gather a bunch of people, and build a mega church. Rather, it is bringing believers to fullness and maturity. The Lord is not impressed with our mega churches and our statistics; He is impressed with a high measure of Christ in His people. Big ministries and large numbers of people can can look successful, but in truth these types of ministries can be the most shallow.
Why would the Lord give a leader anointing if they would miss their own high calling of being conformed to the image of Christ, by making ministry their god? The Lord knows what we will choose with our own free will. He knows that some leaders, when presented with a choice between being conformed to the image of Christ, or entering into ministry to flow in their anointing as soon as possible; will in fact choose ministry. He simply gives us what he knows we will ultimately choose, because He knows what we would choose even if we had full understanding of what we are actually choosing. Those who in the end, would not choose Him first, He gives their anointing and ministry to them. These are like the children of Israel who demanded that God feed their flesh with meat before the proper time. The Lord did give them what their self-life desired, but it damaged their souls (Numbers 11:18, Psalm 106:15). The Lord will also use these kinds of leaders and their ministries to test believes. The test is to see if believers will follow anointing, gifts, good preaching, and power; rather than the transforming maturity of the the Lord that flows through His proven ministers. He uses these ministers to test believers, in order to see if they want Him, or gifting.
The believers who will choose the Lord over ministry, will be taken through the wilderness, and by means of the cross; their self-life will be crucified. Then the Lord can minister through the person and have His way. This is a process of crushing and yielding to the Lord. There is no shortcut. This is the hard way in which the path is narrow. Moses was eighty years old before the Lord commissioned him into His calling. Elijah was in the wilderness for many long years being trained by the Lord before his public ministry began. The way the current church brings people into ministry, and the way the Lord does it, are very different. Our current ministry schools, prophetic schools, and seminaries can never approve or commission a person into ministry. Only the Lord Himself can train, prepare, and approve. The difference between the vessels trained by the religious system and those trained by the Lord will be abundantly clear. The former have head knowledge and information which they minister from, while the latter carry the fire from the throne of God. The former carry the doctrine of their prophetic teachers, while the latter carry the Lord’s burden.
God’s Standards for Leaders in Ministry
One of the greatest mistakes made by the apostles in the book of Acts was that of appointing immature elders. Elders are simply overseers and bishops (the leaders of a church or ministry). The apostles would see a calling on someone and appoint them as a leader in the city church before they moved on to another location. Then Paul would have to write letters to the churches to address that was taking place and bring correction such as in Corinth. He had to struggle against the very elders he appointed. He learned that gifted and called is not the same thing as approved and commissioned. Towards the end of his ministry, Paul writes to Timothy and explains what the Lord had shown him to be the required qualifications for leadership in the church.
“A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous; One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Timothy 3:2-7 KJV)
Paul states that an overseer of a church should not be a novice. Not only does this mean a novice in regards to being a new convert, but it means anovice in the spiritual journey of knowing the Lord. Someone can be a convert for 12 years, but not have an intimate walk with the Lord. The Lord is looking for leaders who are move advanced in the spiritual life. One of the definitions of a novice is: a person who is new to the circumstances, work, etc. If a person hasn't had a history of walking with the Lord, and they are a novice with Christ Himself; they are not ready to lead Christ’s people. Leaders must know Him if they are going to led His people to Him. Being in the church for a long period of time and having a bunch of knowledge about the Lord, is not the same as knowing Him (the qualification for leadership).
Leaders must not be a novice with the Lord, because novices have much greater risk of falling into spiritual pride. Novices that take a leadership position or are appointed to one, have not yet had there will broken by the Lord. Without their will broken, the self-life (not the Christ life) will be operating through them. The self-life mixed with their ministry, giftings, anotinitngs, and calling; will take them into a place of pride. They will be lifted up in the hearts and minds of believers in the church. People will look to them and their ministry, instead of to Jesus. Then they have the potential of becoming an idol to the believers under their influence. The ministry and gift of the leader is exalted, while Christ takes a back row seat.
Paul also counsels Timothy by the revelation of the Holy Spirit, to only appoint overseers, “that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity; (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God”? It is interesting to note that according to this passage, one is not considered approved for leadership until they have been proven by ruling their own house well with their children in subjection. How then can gifted leaders go off and start a ministry or a church before they have been proven in this area? Maybe it is because they are ignoring the scriptures and treating the word lightly. Many anointed young leaders come straight out of ministry school, and start a ministry before they even have children. They are without the approval of the Lord in regards to their own family. These young leaders have not been properly tested in the treatment of their wife. If a leader can not treat his own wife well, how can he be trusted to treat the Lamb’s wife well? The fact that we think we know better than the Lord has been the cause of great turmoil and immaturity in the church.
I will note that in some circumstances the Lord may not give a couple children. If this is the case then it is an exception to this scripture. His grace will then be there to prepare and mature the vessel apart from children. In Paul’s case he did not have a wife and children. Therefore the Holy Spirit trained and approved him apart from having a family.
Paul tells Timothy to only appoint elders or overseers who are the husband of one wife. According to the word of God, having had more than one wife would disqualify a man from being an overseer of a church or ministry. The exceptions would be if the first wife of the man died, or if the first wife of the man committed adultery against him (which is legal grounds for divorce according to Jesus). A third scenario would be: two unbelievers got married, and afterwards only the husband became born again. Then later, the unbelieving wife chooses to leave her husband. The husband then marries a believing woman and eventually becomes a leader of a church. Paul address this in 1 Corinthians 7:10-17. I do not believe that a divorce during the time that a person was unsaved would disqualify a person from serving as overseer of a church of ministry. Unsaved people sin, and the Lord clearly understands this. Obviously no one can expect someone without Christ living in them to have lived a holy and pure life. The Lord’s expectation for us does increase after we choose to be born again, and allow Christ to live in us. Then we have a responsibility to obey His commandments as He has given us the grace to obey.
The Lord is very merciful and therefore divorce and adultery can be forgiven. The issue is not mercy and forgiveness, it's obedience to the Lord. He may forgive a leader who commits adultery by divorcing his wife and marrying another woman, but He is not okay with that leader maintaining their status as overseer of the church or ministry. They have disqualified themselves from functioning in that role. We do not have the authority to nullify the word of God by our own human love and compassion. His word is love and compassion, and we must accept it as so. Deception will quickly take ahold of us if we disregard His word simply because we don't like it or agree with it.
Anointing on a minister is not the sign that they should still be leading a church, ministry, or movement after committing adultery and having multiple wives. The Lord's gifts and calling of God are without repentance (Romans 11:29). Once the Lord gives gifts and a calling, He does not remove it. However we can chose to operate independently of Him and go our own way. He may desire a leader who has unlawfully had multiple wives to come away with Him and live a private life of prayer, worship, and fasting. However since the leader has the gift and call for ministry, he can choose to continue in ministry and it could be successful. Usually those ministers who have made ministry their idol, will choose to continue in ministry regardless of what the Lord says in his word. They will hear according to the idol of their heart, ministry. They will hear "the Lord" speak to them that it is okay for them to return to ministry, or they will get a "prophetic word" from another leader. They will hear or receive the prophetic word that their uncrucified soul desires to hear.
Believers are just as much at fault in allowing this to continue as leaders. We ignore the scripture for the sake of mercy and compassion (which is really our own mercy and compassion, not God’s). We fund ministries and therefore keep them operating, in which the leader has left his wife for another woman. Carnality is living in the church and we are allowing it to continue by our money and support.
There was a leader who the Lord used for a short but powerful revival. About three and a half months into the revival he gave in to the temptations of the Devil and the lusts of his own flesh. He left his wife for another woman. The powerful revival ended. He quickly married the other woman so he wouldn't have to be reconciled with his wife. He had children so the divorce must have been very hurtful for the family. Within a few years, the man was back overseeing a ministry with his new wife by his side. But according to the qualifications put forth by the Holy Spirit, the man should be disqualified. Even if many in the church don’t believe that God still judges, the Holy Spirit still believes so: “Marriage is honourable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge.” (Hebrews 13:4 KJV). Please keep in mind that the book of Hebrews was written to believers after Christ died on the cross.
I also know of two pastors who divorced there spouses around the time they were in seminary together. They met in seminary and liked each other. Even though they were both already married, they fell into deception and believed the Lord wanted them to be together. They each divorced their spouses and married one another. Then after seminary they went into the ministry together, leaving their former spouses and children behind. Their ministry was founded on the ground of deception, self-will, and sin. They ignored God’s word so they could have what their flesh wanted. The two went on to lead and pastor churches, while ignoring the scriptural command that a bishop should be the husband of one wife. It is so grieving to see people put their own ambitions for ministry above the Lord. Only idolatry for ministry can take us down this destructive path.
The Lord obviously loves these leaders and has forgiven their sin. He cannot however go against His word. His word stands wether we like it or not. The Lord cannot bless a ministry that is founded on deception, self-will, lust, adultery, and divorce. This kind of foundation will not be the healthy foundation that believers need. It will only do damage to believers, that may take many years for them to recover from. Unfortunately if the leaders are deceived, they cannot understand this. They love ministry so much that they will continue in it, even at the expense of the Lord’s people.
The High Calling of God
In a time where ministry, our own destiny, and our personal calling have taken the place of God’s high calling; it is crucial we return to the Lord’s will:
“that I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed to his death; if by any means I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained, or am already made perfect; but I press on, if it is so that I may take hold of that for which also I was taken hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers, I don’t regard myself as yet having taken hold, but one thing I do. Forgetting the things which are behind, and stretching forward to the things which are before, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as are perfect, think this way. If in anything you think otherwise, God will also reveal that to you. Nevertheless, to the extent that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule. Let us be of the same mind.” (Philippians 3:10-16 WEB).
The Lord’s high calling is that we might know Him, not that we might be used powerfully in ministry. In order to truly know the Lord we must be willing to partake of His sufferings, and be conformed to his death. To a church that is self-willed, loves entertainment, and is only concerned about its own benefit; this is a hard saying. Yet the scripture makes it apparent, “If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us:” (2 Timothy 2:12 KJV)
Paul spoke of knowing the power of his resurrection, yet Paul clearly taught elsewhere that all who are in Christ will experience a resurrection from the dead (with the exception of course of those who are still alive at His coming). But Paul says in the above passage that He has not yet attained to the resurrection of the dead, although he had been born again for some time. Then he goes on to speak of the high calling. This makes it clear that there is a high calling to a better resurrection (Hebrews 11:35). Paul was pressing toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God. This calling has been lost in the ministry driven church which values gifting more than intimacy, power more than relationship, and the works of Christ over being conformed to the image of Christ.
Jesus is our high calling. To be near to Him for eternity. To know Him in this life. To the degree that we seek the Lord and draw near to Him in this life, will determine our proximity to Him for eternity. We will have as much of the Lord as we wanted in this life. Therefore we should not waste our time during this life. Those who wanted the things of God more than the God of all things, will be furthest away from Him in Heaven (or the least in the Kingdom). Those who wanted the Lord above all else in this life, will be closest to Him in Heaven (greatest in the Kingdom). For it is only our nearness to the great One that makes us great.
According to the scripture, there are different levels of love. Salvation is a lower level of love, because it is based on need. We love the Savior because we needed saving and He saved us. We are not called to stay in this level of love for God. We are called to progress into loving Him as a Master, and then to knowing Him and loving Him as a friend. And finally loving Him with the deep affection that a bride has for her bridegroom.
Much of the church is stuck in a place of only knowing the Lord as a Savior. A believer’s praying reveals a lot about their relationship with the Lord. Some believers will not use certain references for God such as Lord, Master, or Father; they only say, "God." This demonstrates they only know the Lord in a limited capacity. They know Him as Creator and Savior. There are many ministries in America that have their focus on salvation alone. Believers in these churches will have a hard time moving into their high calling. The enemy actually uses the church to keep believers from entering into their destiny of becoming the Lord's bride (the bride must make herself ready in order to be the bride).
If Satan can keep leaders and believers focused on salvation, then he can prevent them from being the overcomers that Jesus desires. The Lord put Adam and Eve in the garden that they might choose to become His bride and live together intimately. They chose the opposite of the Lord's will, and then mankind had need of salvation. Jesus became that Savior and salvation is obviously completely necessary. But salvation was not the Lord's original intent when He formed man. To stay camped out on salvation is to do many believers a disservice. It is the Lord's will for church leaders to lead believers into a discipleship relationship with the Lord. Once that relationship begins, the Lord will lead that believer toward a bridal relationship (if the believer stays willing). The bride is the Lord's true disciples, those who pick up their crosses and follow after Him. These are the overcomers who will attain to the high calling of God.
Jesus does not simply want people to get saved, get plugged into a church, invite others to come to church, read their Bible, tithe, serve the ministry, be a good Christian, and go to church every Sunday. He wants much more than this. He wants our life so filled with Him that He lives through us. He desires us to be set ablaze with love and passion for Him. He longs for us to be one with Him and the Father, by being transformed into His image. But there is a religious system in the church that is keeping believers away from His eternal will.
Jesus does not simply desire someone to be saved and go to church. This is the lie of the American church. Jesus demonstrated His will when He spoke with the rich young ruler: “Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God. You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery,’ ‘Do not murder,’ ‘Do not steal,’ ‘Do not bear false witness,’ ‘Do not defraud,’ ‘Honor your father and your mother.’ ” And he answered and said to Him, “Teacher, all these things I have kept from my youth.” Then Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “One thing you lack: Go your way, sell whatever you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, take up the cross, and follow Me.” But he was sad at this word, and went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:17-22 NKJV).
This would be the dream convert of every evangelical preacher. A person comes to them and asks them what they must do to be saved. Easy answer right? "You need to ask Jesus to forgive you. Ask Him to come inside your heart. Here, pray with me." Now you would think that Jesus would have answered the man differently. Why didn't Jesus simply say, "Believe in me and you shall have eternal life?" Yet Jesus told the man that to have eternal life he must go and sell all that he had. It appears that Jesus' concern wasn't simply getting another person saved by having him pray a prayer like leaders in the current evangelical church. Jesus wanted a disciple of Himself.
The man had a false god that he had placed above the one true God. Jesus was requiring that the man's idol be dealt with at the same time of his salvation so that the man could take up his cross and follow Jesus as a disciple. Jesus was requiring repentance in deed, not just words. The man was unwilling to give up his god of wealth, so Jesus let him walk away to damnation. The man was not granted eternal life. Jesus will not accept someone into eternal life who is not willing to make Him Lord of all. Yet the modern church does not require the repentance of idolatry before salvation. In most cases, people in meetings are simply told to repeat a prayer that the leader prays. Then they are “saved.” Jesus was an evangelist but He was much different from the evangelists of today. He didn't simply want converts. He wanted burning hot sold out disciples that were dedicated to Him and the high calling. It seems that leaders in the modern church are more concerned about their statistics or "soul count," so they can rally "their people" around a cause and keep their ministry expanding. These preachers need big statistics to keep the crowds motivated and keep the momentum of their church heading in a “positive” direction. That is why they make a special effort to count everyone who "prays the prayer." These leaders should take note that it did not work out to well for David, when pride caused him to number the people (2 Samuel 24).
Apostles vs Current Leaders
The first century church leaders were burning lamps for the Gospel, because they had an intimate relationship with the Lord; and because Christ was living and operating through them. Paul did not go to a city to plant a church and make it his ministry. He went to a city to see a group of people come out to the Lord, and that Christ might be formed in them (Galatians 4:19). His intent was to help believers come to maturity, and attain to the high calling. Paul was a bond servant of the Lord, and his desire was to please his Master.
Many leaders today will plant a church in a city with the intent of making it their "own" and expanding their ministry. Of course they say that it is for God's purposes. But many leaders are driven by ambition and success, which comes from the pride of life. The pride of life is manifesting through them because their self-life has not been crucified. These are normally leaders that have many spiritual gifts, talents, and are gifted teachers. Because of their strong gifting, they could be successful in ministry at a young age. They chose the path of ministry instead of the path of the wilderness. In the wilderness period of isolation and hope deferred, the Lord has done His best work in His servants. The lives of Abraham, Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist, and Paul demonstrate this principle. They each experienced difficult wilderness seasons before serving the Lord in a ministry capacity. This time in the wilderness was necessary to remove the pride of life from them, so the Lord could have His way through them.
Many leaders in the church today, blast off like a rocket because of gifting. Their ministries are successful (according to the standards of the American Church), but their motives are what is lacking. They are not fully given over to the Lord like the apostles of the first century church. Leaders in the current church fill much of their time with planning, building their ministry, and thinking of ways to expand their church. The first century church simply desired Jesus to have His way. They were not concerned about their personal ministry expanding or being successful. Success was measured by how Heaven viewed them and if they were faithful to the message they were given to preach. The first century church leaders preached Christ and His cross. Not just salvation, but Christ and the crucified life; and they lived the crucified life. They followed in their Master's foot steps. In order for church leadership to be successful in the present day, we must return to the pure motives of Christ. Our motivation must be Him getting what He wants, and doing things His way.
“But we all, with unveiled face seeing the glory of the Lord as in a mirror, are transformed into the same image from glory to glory, even as from the Lord, the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3:18 WEB)
Suffering is one way to know Him and be conformed to His image. Transfiguration is another crucial way of becoming like Him and thus attaining to the high calling (which is His enteral will and destiny for us). In order to become intimate with Him, we must learn the discipline of being still before him. This may take a while, but it is one of the most important things we could ever do. Waiting on the Lord will eventually bring one in to the manifest presence of the Lord. When His presence comes, we will begin to behold Him internally. His glory will then shine into our soul and cause it to be transfigured. The process of transfiguration actually changes the internal appearance of our souls. The measure of Christ increases in us. Each time we wait upon Him, we are transformed into His very image from one degree of glory to another degree of glory.
This is the Lord’s purpose and goal for us, to be transformed into His same image. The most important thing we can ever do is simply to be with Him. There is no achievement in this life or anointing in ministry that can ever compare to simply being before the King and knowing Him. The greatest thing we can ever due in this life is just be in that secret place before the Lord where we become His friends. To be a friend of the King is far greater than being known by the greatest leader, the president, or any other “superstar” on this earth. There is no comparison. When this fact is truly realized, the works of ministry and the thrill of ministry, pale in comparison to Him as they should.
The Sons of God
There has been much teaching in recent years in the church that we are all sons of God. While it is true that every born again believer in Christ is a child of God, it is not true that all believers are sons of God. Sonship is our high calling, and it is only attained when we become of full age (the perfect man). This only occurs when we allow Christ to come to full measure within us. The scripture makes a distinction between immature children of God (teknon in the Greek) and mature sons of God (uihos in the Greek). Not all believers will choose to progress into mature sonship. Those that do, will lay hold of their eternal destiny.
The Lord’s high calling for us is to be overcomers. We are to overcome Satan, the world, and ourselves. The only way we can do this is by allowing Christ to rule us and be the overcomer through us. We are so weak and we must come to the point of realization that we cannot overcome anything apart from Christ. Not all of the church is given the promises that the overcomers are given. Only those who the Lord classifies as an overcomer will receive the promises of the overcomer. These will be the saints who become His true disciples. They are the dedicated and the consecrated ones, who did those things that pleased their Master. The promised rewards to the overcomers are found in Revelation chapter 2, 3, and 20.
Another aspect of the Lord’s high calling is to become His bride. The scripture indicates that only some of the church will become the Lord’s bride, which is contrary to false doctrine in the church that states all of the church is the Lord’s bride.
The church is currently engaged to the Lord. We are not presently His bride for the wedding has not yet taken place. During this time on earth, we will decide if we want to marry Him. Those who make Him the priority of their lives and their first love; will marry Him in the age to come. Believers who love themselves more than the Lord will not become His bride. Those who allow the cares, worries, anxieties, distractions, busyness, and things of this life to distract them; will not become the bride. Believers who have put anything else before the Lord such as their job, money, their ministry, another person, or any sin; are committing spiritual adultery against Him. Anyone who commits adultery against the Lord during the engagement, and does not fully repent; will not be His bride.
In the natural, what man would marry a woman if during the entire engagement, she cheated on him with another man. The Lord is the same. He is looking for a bride who loves Him and is devoted to Him. He will not be unequally yoked, for it would go against His own word. Those who pursue Him with all their heart, and cannot live without Him; won't have to live without Him. For they will become His bride for eternity. Believers who simply go to church and read their Bible, but never make the Lord their everything; will go to Heaven, but will not marry the Lamb.
The book of Revelation is written to the church, not unbelievers. The scripture says’ ““Let us rejoice and be exceedingly glad, and let us give the glory to him. For the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his wife has made herself ready.”
He said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.’” He said to me, “These are true words of God.”” (Revelation 19:7, 9 WEB).
The Holy Spirit says to the church that those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb are blessed. This means that not all the church will be invited to the marriage supper. Also, the scripture states that the bride will make herself ready. This implies that something has to be done in order to be ready. If a believer does nothing to become ready for marriage, then the believer will not be ready; and if the believer is not ready then the believer will not be getting married.
In Matthew 25:1-13, Jesus gives a parable about ten virgins (born again undefiled believers). Five of these virgins were not ready for the Bridegroom, so when He came they were not invited in to the marriage supper of the Lamb. The scripture does not say they are not allowed to go to Heaven, but only that they couldn't go into the marriage supper. Only those believers who have made themselves ready will partake of the marriage supper, and become the Lamb’s wife.
“He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will go out from there no more. I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name.” (Revelation 3:12 WEB)
“One of the seven angels who had the seven bowls, who were loaded with the seven last plagues came, and he spoke with me, saying, “Come here. I will show you the wife, the Lamb’s bride.” He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the holy city, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God,” (Revelation 21:9-10 WEB)
Believers who overcomer will receive the name of the city of God written on them. The city of God is the bride. It is a actual city, and like any city it contains people. Only the overcomers who have the name written on them by the Lamb, will be the bride and the city. The believers who did not overcome, will not have the name written on them; and therefore will not be the Lamb’s wife (the city of God).
Our First Love
A great choice lies before the church. We can return to our first love, or we can face the judgment of our former love. The Lord has watched the idolatry of the things of God continue long enough, and it is now time for His judgment to begin in the house of God (1 Peter 4:17). The current church parallels with the church in Ephesus. The Ephesians church was a powerful apostolic center. They ministered in great works of power which impacted the surrounding region. They had great understanding as is indicated in Paul’s heavenly letter to them. Jesus mentioned to the church in Ephesus several times that He knew their works and labors (Revelation 2). This indicates that they were doing a lot of ministry and seeing people saved, healed, and delivered. The woks of God were being manifested among them regularly.
The problem that occurred, was the church in Ephesus became overly focused on the works that were taking place. Over time, they left their first love of Jesus for their secondary calling of ministry. They focused on healing, gifts of the spirits, teaching, and works of power. They grew more attached to what we would call revival, than the reviving One Himself. A god named “ministry” ensnared their hearts. Much of the church in America has come to this exact place. We have concentrated on our programs, worship services, gifts, conferences, events, and speakers. Christ has been left behind. The same warning comes to us from the throne of God that came to the church in Ephesus:
“Remember therefore from where you have fallen, and repent and do the first works; or else I am coming to you swiftly, and will move your lamp stand out of its place, unless you repent.” (Revelation 2:5 WEB)
The lamp stand that Jesus is referring to is the entire church in a city or region (Revelation 1:11, 20). This is one of the most severe judgments in all of scripture (and it’s New Testament judgment). If the church does not repent of idolatry, Jesus will actually cause the church to cease from existing in a certain area. Meaning the whole region would plunge into darkness and damnation, exactly as Ephesus did when Jesus eventually removed their candlestick. There was no longer a burning apostolic church impacting the region, and no one was getting saved, healed, and delivered. Ephesus became nothing more than a religious system after the presence of the Lord departed. The church, like Israel, is very good with continuing in her religion, once the Holy Spirit has left. Jesus would rather have no church, then a church who doesn't put Him first. He will not allow ministry to be our god.
Ministry that incorporates miracles, healings, gifts of the Spirit, and the power of the Spirit are good and necessary. We need the Holy Spirit to move in power. But the Holy Spirit would never focus on Himself or works themselves, for His assignment is to exalt and reveal Christ (John 15 and 16). Yet many ministries in the Charismatic church mainly preach revival and healing. Jesus never preached healing or even taught on healing. He just healed. Yet we have whole ministries dedicated to teaching healing. Present day leaders would even say they are called to only do and teach healing. However this is a departure from the scriptures. The first century apostles preached Christ and Christ crucified. Their focus was on Him, not healing. When healing becomes the purpose of our ministry, it has become a god. Works have replaced Christ in the Charismatic church, just as they did in Ephesus. The true apostolic focuses on Christ and conformity to His image. Any ministry who refuses to repent and return to their first love of Christ, will be dissolved by the Lord Himself. The Lord will accomplish this even if He has to remove the leader from the ministry or take them home to Heaven early. We should not mess around with the King who sits upon the throne, but should fear Him and take Him at His word.
Christ Must Become All
Revival, healings, and miracles have yet to bring transformation to the United States. The church believes that if we could have one more great awakening throughout the nation, it would bring the needed change to the country. Unfortunately the past has already proven that this will not happen. The miracle revivals of the 40’s and 50’s did not bring lasting transformation. The only way that the church in this nation can come into fullness is to embrace the cross and crucified life.
The cross of Christ will put all of our plans, will, desires, good ideas, destines, expectations, and ministries to death. The cross will destroy the self-life that has been holding us back. We must choose to come out of the Charismatic Movement that has now become a stone monument. The Lord is looking for those who want to move onward to the true apostolic and prophetic. Not to be confused with the current apostolic that are mainly big ministries which focus on healing. Not to be confused with the current prophetic, that is a blessing ministry. The Lord is going to release His true apostles and prophets in the years to come. They are those who He has trained in the secret place, and will carry out His will. He will not allow what currently calls itself the apostolic and prophetic to train, influence, and affect His true messengers; therefore He has separated them until their time of preparation has ended.
Jesus’ first disciples were devastated by the cross. When Jesus hung on the cross and died, all of their expectations and plans died with Him. They were crushed by the death of their will. We must allow the Lord to bring us to this place. What we thought He was going to do in regards to revival, He is not. He will not do things in the future how we expect Him to do it, and we are in danger of missing what He will do; or even opposing it. We have to allow Him to put to death our expectations of how we think things will look. We must allow Him to destroy our old wine skin, and give us a new one. The Lord is about to take the church into uncharted waters. We don't know how to get there, and we are incapable of getting there. He is going to have to show us, and release the understanding. We have to depend completely on Him, move when He moves, and only do what He does.
Before us is the high calling. It is offered to each one of us. Those who secure the high calling of God are those who want Christ above all else. They are the chosen ones because they did not waste their time. They used their time to pursue the Lord. They waited upon Him until they found the secret life. Then they progressed down the spiritual path. They stood before His throne, and His presence was with them. Christ become their everything, their reason for being. Deeper and deeper these overcomers when into Jesus Christ. They couldn't have enough of Him, and when they were not in His presence something was not right inside of them. These are the bride, the sons, the disciples. These overcame by allowing Christ to put their own ministry and calling to death, so that Christ could carry out His ministry and calling through them. They are the ones who valued Him more than ministry. Transfiguration into the image of the Lord became their goal.
When we allow the dying of the Lord Jesus to work in us, it will purify us of the self-life. Once the self-life is dead, His resurrection life will come. Christ will have His way. He will have a bride that has been conformed to His image. He will have His glorious inheritance in the saints. He will be exalted in His kingdom. The life that we have on this earth is about Him, not ourselves. Let His will be done and His Kingdom come. We have a chance with the rest of our time in our earthly bodies, to see Christ get what He wants; that He might be glorified. May the Holy Spirit make this our chief desire.
Forget the mistakes and the time wasted, which is behind you. Press on toward the goal for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
- Ty Unruh (2017)